Conflicting accounts surround Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy’s upcoming departure from the Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums). The professor alleges ideological differences are the reason his contract is not being renewed, something which the university denies.
Dr Hoodbhoy’s current contract expires in December.
A debate was sparked online after an email, reportedly sent by him to various offices at Lums, was made public. In the email, Dr Hoodbhoy has listed the reasons given to him by the administration for not renewing his contract. The professor has in response detailed his teaching and research activities.
Dr Hoodbhoy, speaking to The Express Tribune confirmed that the email was authentic.
He said he had been informed, on October 11, by the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering dean that his contract would not be renewed “because of multiple reasons, which include failure to help recruit faculty and mentor junior faculty”. He said he was also told that he had “too much on his plate”.
Dr Hoodbhoy says he sent the email on October 15 to several offices, including Vice Chancellor Dr Adil Najam, Pro Chancellor Syed Babar Ali, SSE Dean Dr Sohail Qureshi and physics department Chair Sabieh Anwar. He says he is yet to receive a reply.
Dr Hoodbhoy joined Lums as a visiting professor in January 2011 with eligibility for a three-year contract. In November 2011, he says, he was told that as per the new policy at Lums he would be eligible for a one-year contract which would be renewed annually.
Dr Hoodbhoy says he received a year’s contract in April 2012, which was back dated to January. He says he was also told that his contract would not be extended because the university did not offer people above 60 positions as a visiting professor.
However, a Lums official, said on the condition of anonymity that on Oct 15, the SSE dean had discussed with faculty members a list of 15 visiting professors, all above 60, some of whom were approved.
“I fail to understand what exactly the issue is. Every now and then they come up with new complaints,” said Dr Hoodbhoy.
He says he recently faced a lot of criticism when he introduced a course titled Science and the Contemporary World Order. He says the course, which discusses science and politics, “gave rise to ideological differences”.
The university, however, denies allegations, saying that the matter is of a contractual nature. Vice Chancellor Dr Adil Najam, who is currently in Austria, told The Express Tribune via email and on the phone that the administration was “deeply hurt” by the allegations.
“Dr Hoodbhoy, whose intellect and contributions are admirable, was on a contract which ends in December,” said the VC. “Dr Hoodbhoy is not being expelled, terminated or fired.”
Dr Najam said that a similar review procedure was adopted for all visiting faculty members at the institute.
The vice chancellor also denied Dr Hoodbhoy’s allegations that the course he had recently offered had resulted in ‘ideological differences’, “The decision not to renew the contract was not influenced by his choice of courses. The university encourages and welcomes new courses.”
“Such decisions are often not easy because they concern our colleagues who we care for,” said Dr Najam, “Anyone can agree or disagree with the decision but accusations of malice or ill-intent are incorrect and hurtful.”
The letter can be read here
Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2012.